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Speeders impacting on Dartmoor's visitor numbers

Tuesday, 16 April 2024 09:32

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

Dartmoor National Park (Image: Guy Henderson LDRS)

Parking & litter also puts tourists off

Speeding vehicles on Dartmoor have the greatest impact on the visitor experience, a survey has revealed.

In Dartmoor National Park Authority’s first visitor survey since 2017, carried out between last July and October, vehicles going above the 40mph speed limit are the most annoying thing to visitors, poorly parked vehicles are second and litter third.

Visitors said too many visitors are the fourth most irritating.

The national park authority received just over 400 responses at 16 locations including Haytor, Postbridge and Princetown Visitor Centres, Burrator Reservoir and Bellever Forest. It wants to use the figures to develop a greater awareness of visitors’ attitudes and visitor profiles.

It plans to repeat the survey every two or three years.

The proportion of day visitors (60 per cent) and staying visitors (32 per cent) has remained similar since 2017, but the number staying more than a week has declined.

Most people stayed in self-catering accommodation or with friends and 65 per cent came from Devon.

The survey showed a broad demographic of visitors with the 55-64 age group coming out slightly on top.

Most people used their car to get to and around the moor and with less than one per cent travelling by bus. Active travel was much more common within the national park with 27 per cent of respondents reporting they walked, which was the most popular activity on the moor.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents said they would find an app or guide which collated Dartmoor places of interest useful.

Eighty-nine per cent said Dartmoor was well-conserved, but roughly half thought there were other features which should be conserved or enhanced and all but three per cent were aware they were in a national park.

More electric vehicle charging points, solar equipment, banning barbecues, lowering speed limits, protecting peat bogs and banning plastics were among the suggestions to address the climate emergency.

Members of DNPA suggested that next time surveys should be conducted at Okehampton and Ivybridge stations, as many people used trains to access the moor.

Cllr Philip Sanders said they should be marketing Dartmoor in the  Midlands and Wales which are within easy travelling distance by car or public transport.

He said clearly people had an issue with cars on the moor speeding and parking poorly.

All roads through the national park are set at a 40mph speed limit to protect cattle, sheep and ponies who freely roam around and can easily stray onto the roads.

DNPA will investigate trends to see who visits the moor when and for what purpose, how an app mainly for walking routes can be expanded, and direct links made to the national park website from other sites such as Trip Advisor.

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